Treaty of Nanking

Shanghai is sweeping vendors off its streets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 May, 2006, 12:00am

Shanghai is taking the whip to the city's carnival atmosphere, banning fortune tellers and performing monkeys from its streets in a crackdown on vendors.

Authorities would ban or strictly control peddlers of goods, food vendors, providers of services like shoe shines and other 'bad customs' in the city centre over the next two years, a government spokeswoman said yesterday.

'The phenomenon of vendors chaotically setting up stands is a chronic and stubborn disease of urban management, which seriously pollutes the city's appearance, influences traffic safety and hinders the lives of residents,' Jiao Yang said.

The latest crackdown follows a campaign against jaywalking and reports that city officials were unhappy about how the third movie in the Mission: Impossible series portrayed Shanghai by showing its citizen's laundry hanging outdoors. Shanghai is also trying to live up to its vision of an 'international city' before hosting the World Expo in four years.

Authorities would try to shift street vendors into established markets or shops, Ms Jiao said. The priority was to ban vendors from the city centre, including the main business and commercial districts, areas around foreign consulates, airports and railway stations, as well as along the busiest traffic routes.

Shanghai has more than 30,000 street vendors, with an estimated 70 per cent of them migrant workers from outside the city. More than 10,000 complaints were received about vendors last year, officials said. This week, police started patrolling the subway to drive away beggars, vendors and pickpockets.

Residents agreed that street vendors could be a nuisance, but some said the last sightings of performing monkeys were years ago. Fortune tellers commonly gather outside the city's main temples, such as Jingan Temple.